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Line of Sight Chapter 1

Chapter One

 

Her eyes stared at her television set as Sasha watched the approach of Hurricane Katrina to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The forecasts of the storm would bring her on land for the third time near Gulfport, but she knew the close proximity of the storm would bring devastation to New Orleans. The cities levee systems and storm pumps were antiquated, stressed beyond their performance limits even during heavy thunderstorms. Sasha knew the city of her childhood well and shuddered when she thought of how unprepared the residents of the city were for what they were about to be challenged with. Her heart ached for the loss that was to strike her beloved hometown but Sasha knew there was little to be done. The time for action had rapidly slipped away.

 

 

Kara entered the parlor to find her love in the same position she had been sitting in for the last four hours.

 

“You, my dear, must take a break from that television set,” Kara said, as she sat in Sasha’s lap blocking her view of the television.

 

Sasha moved her head around Kara to gaze at the screen. “This is going to be horrific,” Sasha said. “We aren’t prepared for a storm of this magnitude and the officials are dragging their feet on evacuation orders.”

 

“So many of the people won’t heed them anyway,” Kara said, further darkening Sasha’s mood.

 

“Unfortunately, that’s true. So many of the residents have lived in their small neighborhoods for their entire life and feel like they are safely tucked away in their homes.” She shook her head. “Still, I can’t believe they are so blind to the forecaster’s warnings to evacuate to higher land.”

 

“For years they’ve lived with the predictions that a super storm would hit New Orleans and they’ve grown increasingly complacent in their preparations and plans to evacuate when years pass with no storm.” Kara sighed deeply as she ran her fingers through Sasha’s hair. “Now that they’re facing the very storm they’ve been warned of for years, they’ve frozen in their shoes like a deer in headlights.”

 

“I just wish there were something I could do to prevent the devastation that’s going to occur,” Sasha said.

 

“I know you do, my love, but there’s little that can be done now. You’ve evacuated my office staff and our closest friends to Baton Rouge where they’ll be safe from harm.” Kara could see the distress written across Sasha’s face as the newest reports were broadcast stating Katrina had been upgraded to a Category Five storm. “The city is in God’s hands now,” Kara said.

 

Kara saw the tears glistening in Sasha’s eyes as she finally looked directly at her. “I know you’re right, but my heart still aches for the families who won’t survive this storm.”

 

“Come with me, so I can get a hot meal into you,” Kara instructed. “When the time comes and it’s safe, we’ll go into town and help those that we can,” she said.

 

Sasha nodded her head, still saddened by what was about to occur, and followed Kara into the kitchen. Kara had made fresh biscuits with chicken and dumplings. The food was sitting on the table waiting for them. Sasha smiled softly when she saw the meal. It had been Milly’s favorite meal, her comfort food if you will, and Sasha sat down to eat with the memory of her lost love still weighing on her mind.

 

“Will we be safe here?” Kara asked nervously.

 

“We may experience some flooding from the heavy rains, but we are well protected otherwise. The standby generator has plenty of fuel, and we have food and serum to last several weeks,” she added.

 

“Will the animals be safe?” Kara asked.

 

“I’ve secured the stall doors open in the barn for the horses,” Sasha said. “They will more than likely stay out in the open as the rains begin, but have the option of moving to cover if they’d feel more secure.”

 

“I’m so happy you are with me, Sasha. I would have no clue how to prepare for a storm like this,” Kara said.

 

“There is not much more we can do,” Sasha said. “We could have evacuated with the others but, I’m certain we are safe this far from the city.”

 

“I know that I’ll be safe with you,” Kara said, trying to lift Sasha’s spirits.

 

“We’ll be just fine,” Sasha said as she broke a biscuit in half and sopped up the gravy from the dumplings. “This was a terrific meal,” she said, as she finished and drank the remainder of her tea.

 

“I’m glad you enjoyed it,” Kara said, smiling from her lovers compliment. “Would you like to join me out on the porch for a while?” she asked.

 

“Yes, I’d like that,” Sasha said as she mustered a smile for Kara.

 

“I’ll take care of these dishes later,” Kara said, as she rose and reached for Sasha’s hand.

 

 

Kara and Sasha walked out onto the front porch and sat together in the swing. Sasha’s eyes went up to the sky and she watched the clouds as they began to swirl against the deep orange and purple of the coming sunset. “Such a beautiful sight, to be such an omen of bad things to come,” Sasha said, her mood turning gloomy once more.

 

“New Orleans will survive and rebuild better and stronger if necessary,” Kara said.

 

“But, at what cost?” Sasha quickly answered. “How many lives will be lost to prove that parts of the city should have never been built upon?” she asked, louder than she intended.

 

“Hey, I’m on your side.”

 

“I know baby, I’m sorry, this is all just so senseless.”

 

“I understand, but you must not torment yourself so, my love.”

 

Sasha leaned forward and kissed Kara as the rain began to fall onto the tin roof of the porch and a warm wind blew across their faces. They listened to the symphony of the rainfall until after sunset, and when the creatures of the night began their chorus, Sasha suggested they move inside. “The winds will be picking up soon, and if we stay out here, we will get soaked,” she said.

 

“I can think of so much nicer ways to get soaked,” Kara said with a devilish grin.

 

“Oh, can you now?” Sasha asked and cocked an eyebrow.

 

“Why don’t you come upstairs and I’ll show you?” Kara said.

 

“I’m right behind you,” Sasha answered.

 

Kara took her hand, and led her quickly toward the stairs. Sasha could not prevent her eyes from looking at the television screen at the size of the storm and slowed almost to a stop before Kara pulled her forward.

 

“Oh, no you don’t, she said. Enough television for you for a while,” she said, as she pulled Sasha toward the stairs.

 

Once Sasha could no longer see the television, she laughed and grabbed Kara, lifting her into her arms carrying her to their bedroom. She walked to the bed, and placed her gently down and began removing her clothing. Lightning flashed outside as Kara reached for Sasha’s belt to remove her jeans. She looked up to see the excitement glowing in her lover’s eyes. Sasha kicked off her shoes and pressed Kara onto the bed with her naked body. Their mouths came together with a slow, sensual kiss and their moans were lost in the pounding of the rain. Sasha’s hands softly caressed Kara’s face, their arousal strengthening as their bodies molded together in a lustful dance. Sasha kissed Kara breathless, her hips ground into Kara’s sending shivers of pleasure through her.

 

“You feel so good,” Kara managed to whisper as Sasha’s mouth moved down her neck, licking and teasing her lover into a swirling sensation of ecstasy. Sasha’s teeth nipped at Kara’s soft skin, each time causing her to shudder with pleasure as her groans of delight grew louder. Kara wrapped her legs around Sasha’s waist, driving her hips upward to meet Sasha’s hand as she thrust her fingers deep inside Kara.

 

Both lovers released an intense climax and collapsed together on the bed.

 

Kara sighed and whispered to Sasha.

 

“Now wasn’t that more fun than getting soaked in the rain?”

 

“I don’t know,” Sasha said. “Let’s go check and see for sure,” she said.

 

“What?” Kara stammered.

 

“I said, let’s go check and see,” Sasha said, as she took Kara’s hand and they returned downstairs.

 

“Sasha, we are butt naked,” she said when she realized Sasha was serious.

 

“So, we’re all alone here and no one will see us dancing naked in the rain,” Sasha said, as she threw open the front door.

 

“Woman you are crazy,” Kara said, but she followed Sasha into the pouring rain.

 

“Dance with me,” she said. Sasha took Kara in her arms and they kissed as the raindrops trailed down their skin.  They danced in the rain until a clap of thunder sounded nearby sending the lovers racing back to the porch laughing wildly as they ran into the house soaking wet.

 

“So what do you think?” Sasha asked.

 

“I think they are both very enjoyable ways of getting soaked,” Kara said with a grin as she tossed a towel to Sasha.

 

Sasha noted a trembling in Kara’s lower lip and saw that her lover had gotten a chill in the cool rain. “Let’s take a shower to warm up and rinse off,” she said.

 

 

They showered and dried their bodies before they stretched out on the bed to watch the storm raging outside. Lightning flashed brightly through the windows and periodically they could hear hail as it bounced off the roof, and window as an exceptionally strong storm cell moved through.

 

“How can something this beautiful be so terrible?” Kara asked.

 

“I don’t know, my love,” Sasha said as she kissed the top of Kara’s head, her eyes staring out the window at the raging storm.

 

Sasha held Kara in her arms until her lover fell asleep and then slipped from the bed to dress and go downstairs.

 

 

Sasha put away the leftovers and cleaned the kitchen before moving into the parlor. She sat in front of the television set all night, and watched as Katrina made landfall early the next morning. She cringed every time a news report broke in, and she watched in horror as the footage and photographs began to broadcast, showing the utter destruction of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Buildings, homes, and trees tossed about like match sticks, scattered, or in mounds representing lives that were ruined or worse yet, lives that had been lost in all the destruction.

 

Tears were running down Sasha’s cheeks as the first images of New Orleans made it on the air. A local news channel had managed a live feed and Sasha watched in horror as water from swollen Lake Pontchartrain rushed across its Northeast banks to flood Slidell and adjoining areas. Even more horrendous, she watched as a levee gave way and thousands of gallons of water per minute rushed into St. Bernard Parrish from the mighty Mississippi River Gulf Outlet. The video crew realized all too late the precarious position they were in, and rushed to flee the danger zone but, were caught up in the swift moving water, while Sasha watched in shock as the camera image suddenly went blank.

 

 

Kara woke to find that Sasha had left the bed and pulled a robe around her shoulders before starting for the stairs. She found Sasha in the parlor with tears rolling down her cheeks as she watched in disbelief, the horror, and devastation filling the television screen. Kara sat behind Sasha and wrapped her arms around her lover, providing what comfort she could to Sasha.

 

They watched homes swept off their foundations and the powerful water ripped them apart. Sasha’s tears returned with a vengeance when the sunrise revealed people stranded on their roofs begging for help, as the helicopters filled with news cameras flew helplessly across the city. Film clips showed bodies floating face down in the muddy waters and people fleeing from neighborhoods, desperately searching for higher land to wait out the rising waters. The most disturbing footage from the Mississippi Gulf Coast area, showed entire city blocks swept clean of homes, and businesses. In a video clip one of the barge casinos normally moored in the Gulf of Mexico, near Biloxi, forced onto land by the raging waters, was now sitting at the front steps of the civic center. Even a structure of that immense weight could not spared from Katrina’s wrath. The casino had been pushed several miles down the coast and then a few hundred yards inland before coming to rest.

 

The Mayor announced that the Superdome was a shelter for the many unfortunate souls who chose not or could not evacuate the city. The Interstate 10 Bridge to the east of the city had collapsed like an accordion, so relief from the east would have a long detour before it could reach the city. The worn concrete of the remaining Interstate sections loomed above the city like an apparition as residents made their haggard journey to the Superdome. The faces of the people wore the shocked expression of disbelief and anger that they were going through a personal hell, either unsure of the whereabouts of their families or certain of their tragic deaths.

 

“These people look like refugees from a war,” Kara said, as she pulled Sasha closer.

 

“A war that has just begun,” Sasha said.

 

 

As with most human tragedies, the worst elements of mankind erupted in New Orleans. Television stations were jammed with video of looters pushing carts and lugging electronics through waist deep water back to destroyed homes with no signs of power. People trying to find food to survive, were being attacked by fellow looters, and the flooded streets of New Orleans became a war zone.

 

The afternoon wore on and the rains began to subside, however as much as fifteen inches of rain had fallen in some areas. The torrential rain swelling the banks of Lake Ponchartrain, and a storm surge estimated at fourteen feet, caused a catastrophic failure to the cities levee system with over fifty breaches resulting in over eighty percent of the city submerged in floodwaters.

 

“That’s incredible,” Kara said as a view from a helicopter showed the flooded city.

 

“The Coast Guard is already at work searching for survivors,” Sasha said, with a glint of hope in her voice.

 

The death tolls in Mississippi and New Orleans were rapidly rising and estimates of the number of missing individuals was initially in the thousands. The Coast Guard and other disaster crews worked endlessly in their search for survivors. The National Guard deployed to assist a depleted police force in regaining the control of the city’s streets, and to assist with search and recovery efforts. Most of the streets were underwater, and traveled only by watercraft or large military vehicles without the threat of being flooded out. Non-military personnel were urging residents to stay off the streets as carjacking, and looting was still a major problem. Shots rang out from rival gangs and rebellious citizens who were taking advantage of the misfortune of the city.

 

News clips aired documenting people rescued from their homes, atop tall buildings, or struggling in the chest deep water. Their faces were blank slates of shock, as rescue workers provided transportation to the Superdome for food, water, and shelter. Sasha felt thankful that at least some portion of the residents survived and brought safely to shelter.

 

Other clips showed mothers pleading with police and military staff to find their children or their husbands that had become separated during the storm. “I wish I could do something,” Sasha said again, after one such video report.

 

“The waters should begin receding soon,” Kara said. “Once it’s safe for us to travel, we will go to provide whatever assistance we can.”

 

“Marcus has an airboat, so maybe we can use that to help with the rescues,” Sasha said.

 

“That’s a good idea,” Kara said. “Why don’t you try to call him and set that up,” she suggested.

 

 

Sasha went into the kitchen and was surprised to find that she had a dial tone on her line, but when she dialed Marcus’ number she received a recording that all circuits were busy. That didn’t surprise her, as she knew that most of the working telephone circuits would be busy securing supplies and assistance to the storms victim. She walked into her office and picked up her cell phone, but received the same monotone message.

 

“All circuits are busy on land lines and cell lines,” she said, when she returned to the parlor. “I’m going to go out and check on the animals,” Sasha said, as she went to the closet to pull out her rain slicker.

 

“Would you like me to warm up some food?” Kara asked.

 

“That would be great,” Sasha said. She kissed Kara and said, “I’ll be back in just a few minutes.”

 

“Hurry back and try to stay dry,” Kara said as she watched Sasha leave.

 

 

 Sasha walked quickly across the yard to the barn and found her two faithful companions standing in their stalls calmly munching hay. “I’m glad to see you two have survived this terrible weather,” Sasha said, as she stroked the large stallion’s neck. He turned his head to face Sasha and nuzzled her softly. She refilled their feed bins and dropped more hay into the stalls before pulling her hood above her head and making a dash for the house.

 

 

Two days later, Sasha and Kara were able to take Marcus’ airboat and assist in the rescue effort. They ran the craft down to the Lower Ninth Ward and were able to take two families from their rooftops. The people, exhausted and dehydrated allowed Sasha to lower them down into Kara’s arms. They were able to transport them within two blocks of the Super Dome, where National Guardsmen transported them the remainder of the distance to the shelter. When darkness approached, the National Guard asked Sasha to halt their search for the evening, claiming it was too dangerous to attempt rescues in the thick darkness. Reluctantly, Sasha and Kara returned home, tired, but relieved that they could finally do something productive.

 

 

For the next week, they participated in the rescue of New Orleans’ residents, helping to rescue some forty people in the process. When the effort turned from rescue to recovery, Sasha agreed that it would be too dangerous for them to participate, so they watched the efforts from the comfort of their home.

 

 

A month passed as the cleanup efforts continued and the residents who had evacuated began to move home. It would never be the same town, but New Orleans was alive once more.

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